By Kevin Aldridge
The Cincinnati Enquirer
DOWNTOWN - Snow flurries and a winter-like chill greeted shoppers and strollers who packed Fountain Square for its annual Light Up the Square celebration Friday night.
Holiday revelers toted cups of hot chocolate and shopping bags stuffed with first purchases. Families huddled around the ice rink while they watched the Queen City Skating Club perform and listened to yuletide tunes.
A light snow falls as the Christmas tree on Fountain Square came aglow at the annual Holiday Lighting Celebration.
(Tony Jones photo)
Shortly before 7 p.m., Mayor Charlie Luken flipped a switch lighting Cincinnati's official Christmas tree and setting the square aglow with more than 100,000 lights.
"This is a great family event that brings the entire community together," said Jeff Tuttle of Price Hill. "It kind of warms you up inside - even though it's cold out here."
David and Mary Druck of San Antonio left their 75-degree weather to visit relatives here for Thanksgiving.
"This is the official start of it all," said David Druck, formerly of Fort Thomas. "The weather is perfect.
"There are so many bad things going on in the world today, I think Christmas just makes people feel happy and closer to one another," Druck said. "The little things like this matter more."
Friday's celebration was Cincinnati's 101st tree-lighting ceremony. The tree - a 28-foot blue spruce - was donated by Al and Elaine Staples of Westwood.
Other events to put you in the Christmas spirit:
Fountain Square Ice Skating: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday (continues through Jan. 25). Admission $2, skates $1. Information: 281-4700.
Shandon Christmas in the Country: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. The town is on Ohio 126 between Ross and Brookville. Event features Welsh music, storytelling, food, arts and crafts and free horse-drawn carriage rides. Information: 738-3640 or 738-2962.
Balluminaria: Free hot-air balloon glow event at Eden Park's Mirror Lake from 5-6:30 p.m. today . Visit Krohn Conservatory's holiday show featuring thousands of poinsettias, a giant music box display and train. Parking is free. Information: 352-4080 or 421-5707.
Santa Claus Express: One-hour train ride with Santa and Mrs. Claus departs from Turtle Creek & Lebanon Railway, 198 S. Broadway, Lebanon, at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. today and 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Cost $15 adults, $13 children. Information: 398-8584.
Holiday in Lights 2003: Drive through woods lighted with holiday displays, 6-10 p.m. today and Sunday (continues through Christmas) at Sharon Woods, 11450 Lebanon Road, Sharonville. Cost is $10 per car or $45 per vehicle with 15 seats or more. Information: 563-4513.
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